Although Mike D’Antoni delayed his coaching debut, his revitalized Los Angeles Lakers continued to get healthy.
Kobe Bryant posted his 18th career triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, Dwight Howard powered for 28 points and 13 boards, and the Lakers ran past the visiting Houston Rockets 119-108 for their fourth victory in five games.
Hobbling around on crutches following recent knee replacement surgery, D’Antoni expected to make his first appearance as the new skipper of the Purple and Gold on Sunday at Staples Center. However, he put it off until perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday after conferring with Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti.
With 17 points, Spaniard Pau Gasol became the 10th international player to eclipse the 15,000 career barrier. Ron Artest contributed 15 for the Lakers (5-5), who improved to 4-1 since Bernie Bickerstaff replaced fired Mike Brown.
With D’Antoni in the locker room, the Lakers ran his signature high-octane offence beautifully, racing out to a 40-29 first-quarter lead and 68-60 at halftime behind 18 points by Howard and 11 more from Bryant.
The Lakers carried a 98-87 cushion into the final period and coasted home.
Elsewhere, New York Knicks beat Indiana Pacers 88-76, Toronto Raptors defeated Orlando Magic 97-79, Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of Golden State Warriors 119-109, Philadelphia 76ers cruised past Cleveland Cavaliers 86-79, and Brooklyn Nets won against Sacramento Kings 99-90.DPA